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Forum on New Community Housing Act Happens Thursday

Fri, 01/20/2023 - 14:23

The Long Island Association is organizing a discussion and information session at the Sag Harbor Cinema Thursday on the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Act, aimed at helping to address a crippling lack of affordable housing across the region. 

The measure was passed by voters last year in East Hampton, Southampton, Southold, and Shelter Island Towns. In the towns where the fund was approved, a new half-percent transfer tax is added to home purchases (paid by the buyer, with the first $400,000 exempt for houses that cost up to $2 million) to be steered to local community housing fund pools. 

Speakers at the Thursday afternoon confab include State Senator Anthony Palumbo, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, and Matt Cohen, president and C.E.O. of the Long Island Association, a nonprofit based in Melville that has been a booster of Long Island businesses since 1926. The association's economic development and infrastructure committee, which is comprised of representatives from the banking, real estate, developer and investment communities, is the host of the event.

Mr. Thiele sponsored the community housing bill in the Assembly -- he's been pushing this initiative for 20 years -- and Mr. Palumbo was its sponsor in the State Senate. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation allowing East End towns to put it on the ballot last year after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a similar bill in 2019.

Riverhead opted not to put the measure on the ballot in 2022 but can put it up for a vote in the future if it chooses.

The new law has been described as the "sister act" to an existing Peconic Bay Community Preservation Act that Mr. Thiele sponsored and shepherded to passage in the late 1990s. That law adds a 2-percent transfer tax to most home or property sales and allows the money to be used for open space, farmland, and historic preservation, recreation space, and to enhance water quality. 

The Peconic Land Trust notes that "more than 10,000 of acres of land have been protect that otherwise would have been lost to development," thanks to the community preservation fund.

By contrast, the new state law aims to encourage the development of affordable housing initiatives in the five towns, via public-private partnerships with developers, town-driven affordable-housing projects, and other means. 

Thursday's forum is open to the public. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., with the discussion itself set to start at noon. The event is free but registration is required by clicking here

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